Burnt Toast Made you Disable the Smoke Detector?

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Posted on February 09, 2017

You may have the wrong smoke detector. Reduce false alarms by using a different type.

There’s nothing more annoying than a smoke detector that goes off every time you use the oven or burn toast. Many people take the batteries out of their smoke detectors because they get tired of false alarms – this is awfully dangerous, and not recommended.

There are currently three kinds of smoke detectors on the market:

1
Ionization Sensor Smoke Alarm

This type of alarm, which can be purchased for about $15 and is currently found in most residential homes, is the one that goes off for burnt toast.
This one contains a small amount of radioactive material sandwiched between two electrically charged metal plates, which ionizes the air and causes current to flow between the plates. When smoke enters the chamber, it disrupts the flow of ions, thus reducing the flow of current, then triggering the alarm to go off.

Just in case you’re wondering: The tiny amount of radiation that can be measured outside the unit does not pose any health risk. In fact, the average annual radiation dose a person receives from a smoke detector is 0.01 percent of the dose they receive from natural background radiation.

2
Photoelectric or ‘Optical’ Sensor Smoke Alarm

This type of alarm uses a light source to detect smoke, and is better at sensing smoldering fires. An Infra-Red LED lens shoots a beam of light into a sensing chamber at an angle away from the sensor. When smoke enters the chamber, light is reflected onto the sensor, triggering the alarm.
While photoelectric alarms are more expensive (about $50), they generally lead to less false alarms, which could mean people are less likely to become annoyed with them and keep the batteries out.

3
Dual Sensor Smoke Alarm

These have both ionization and photoelectric sensors to detect fast and slow-burning fires.
What Type of Smoke Detector is Best for a Residential Home?

We believe the dual sensor is safest, but the photoelectric one may be better for those of you who tend to burn toast.

In any case, make sure you have a smoke detector installed with the batteries working. Check the batteries every time you change the clocks to make sure they’re still functioning: Your life could depend on it!

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